Unique ID budget by Rs 4,000 cr

The unique identification number (UID) project, designed to save thousands of crores of rupees by eliminating ghost beneficiaries of development schemes, was billed to be a priority of the UPA-2 government. But its budget has now been slashed from Rs 7,000 crore to Rs 3,000 crore. Officially, no reasons have been attributed for the cut, but sources said that a resource crunch due to massive and still-growing spend on demand-driven flagship schemes was one of the factors responsible. An official said the recent proposal to earmark Rs 3,500 crore per year for Naxalhit districts could also have forced the government’s hand. This is not the first instance of the government’s proclaimed interest in UIDAI coming into conflict with its actual functioning. As the UID Authority, headed by IT czar Nandan Nilekani, tries to speed up the process, it is frequently running into resistance from a bureaucracy wary of “outsiders’’. Nilekani had earlier complained to the cabinet about the delay in providing him with enough personnel.

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